Tis the season once again, when our thoughts naturally turn to family and friends, as this challenging old year wanes, plant growth around us slows down a bit, the night time temperatures become cooler, the sun falls low in the south, and even with a world pandemic we’re thinking about sharing gifts with our loved ones.
Handmade or homegrown gifts are always my favorites, and it’s possible that this year, some of these gifts may come from your garden or your environment…..but for the moment, let’s turn all this around and instead, let’s consider:
What are the gifts your garden and the natural world have given you this past year?
In a year where many of us were either working from home or staying home, many people in Hawai’i and across the US started a home garden, planted fruit trees and took time to cook, work on landscaping and made home improvements.
Your investment of time, energy, and care repays you with gifts that today money just can’t buy!
I think about the 80% of Americans who live in cities today, the limited connections they have with the natural world daily, and how fortunate we are to live and work in an area of the world that has a mild climate, sunny warmth, year round grow energy, clean air and water, fish in the sea, and the love we feel for this land….Aloha ‘Aina. I think a lot about the gifts I have received from the land and the sea this year, and I know you will have your own list but there could be some similarities.
· Healthy Fresh Food. The food we eat, helps create our overall health, boosts our immune system, allows us to think clearly, and feel ourselves, the people around us, and the world. When we incorporate fresh foods into our daily meals we feed our body, mind, spirit, and soul!
· Daily Physical Exercise. Many of us use the daily natural movement of work in the garden and on the land to strengthen us, add flexibility and lower our stress! Mowing, edging, planting, harvesting, reaching & stretching, moving heavy things, hoeing, weeding & clearing, cutting firewood, building new infrastructure, making & sifting compost, creating teas and mulches, and recycling organic nutrients helps us to be physically healthy.
· Connecting with Nature & Finding Balance. The garden connects us to the cycles of nature and to the seasons, and we become partners and part of the ongoing evolution of life. What I have to watch out for, now that I am older, is just plain doing too much - using up too much Qi in my enthusiastic exuberance and then having to build back my energy. Ah, finding Balance in today’s world is an ongoing challenge, but connecting with Nature lifts our spirits and gives us Hope for the future.
· Developing Resiliency in the Face of Uncertainty. We are being tested right now to rethink what it means to be resilient in the 21st Century. Each of us will find our own way and in doing so we will create a more flexible and durable future for ourselves, our family and our communities. Developing resiliency helps us to be patient, kinder to ourselves and others, be brave, tolerant and respectful of other peoples points of view, be more balanced day to day, and allow ourselves to feel gratitude for the smallest of blessings.
You really do save money by growing some of your own food, and although no one seems to have quantified this yet, growing any amount of food will repay you many times over. Freshness and the accompanying phytonutrients matter!
I’d really like to hear about the gifts you have received from the garden this year so please let us know. You can always reach out with comments or questions by going to our website: www.hawaiiseedgrowersnetwork.com, and a page will pop up where you can send comments or questions.
Winter is here….
Winter has come to the Hawaiian Islands and with it welcome rain for the dry soils on most of the Hawaiian Islands, and a hint of new dryness for us in the Kona area. I always look forward to this time of year as some of my favorite seasonal vegetables prefer to grow with cooler nights -like broccoli, cabbage, peas, lettuce & greens, onions, beets - and this year I’m going to try growing garlic. I’ve ordered my seed, and it’s chilling in the refrigerator getting ready for a January planting. So, it’s a good time to start these vegetables in cells, pots, or flats, and with beets and peas directly sow them into your garden bed or containers.
We have the new/old Manoa C Snap Pea on the Marketplace and it’s a beauty! There is also a new red and green Lettuce Mix of two hardy varieties that will thrive in your gardens, and the gorgeous Red Calaloo - nutritious greens for your culinary needs.
A good time for planting in pots or in the soil this month is just before the Full Moon on Tuesday December 29th. This year, December 26 & 27 are good “root days” just before the pull of that full moon, so you might put that on your calendar.
If you haven’t made a wreath yet, you might try getting a straw form and some pins from your local Ace Hardware and make one yourself from greens, pieces of wood, flowers, etc. that you can gather in your environment. I like to wrap my straw form with green ti first and then add smaller pieces that I can glean here and there.
Celestial Winter Events in Your Garden
This year on December 21, we are given yet another rare gift from the Cosmos. The Winter Solstice and the Grand Conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter will occur on the same day and night! The Winter Solstice signals that the sun has traveled as far south as it will go for this year, and from this day forward the light will begin to grow in the Northern Hemisphere. For eons of time the world over, people will be lighting the Winter Solstice fires to celebrate the Return of the Light. Many plants, especially corn and the vegetables and grains will also be celebrating this growing light as the months proceed.
This year we also have the very special Grand Conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter - the two largest planets in our solar system who come together every 20 years heralding a “new era.” You may have already been watching them come closer and closer together in the Western sky just after sunset. On December 21, they will be conjunct, only 1 degree apart. It will be the closest Earth has seen this conjunction since 1623 and won’t be seen like this again until 2080, so don’t miss it! Let’s use this moment to create our good intentions for this “new era” that is unfolding. All of us can feel something new is in the process of being imagined and created for world culture.
If you live on the eastern side of the islands and can’t see over the mountains you can always use your Sky View app on your phone or iPad. (See our November Blog) Here is some additional information from Earth & Sky.
Your 2021 Garden Wish-list
Have you made a list for your New Year’s Resolutions for your garden in 2021?
Everyone has different priorities but you might consider some of these….
· Start a compost pile or start more compost piles! Can you have too much compost?
HIP Agriculture in Kohala has just produced an awesome video on Starting a Compost Pile to Increase Soil Fertility.
· Find new Balance and Healing for your body, mind, and soul in your Garden
· Do at least one variety trial, discover which variety of X really loves to grow in your garden and you love to eat. Experiment-experiment-experiment!
· Recycle organic matter in your landscaping to use as garden mulch. Mulch helps protect the soil, mitigate rainfall, keeps the weeds from growing (yea!), feeds the worms, and keeps moisture in the soil during dry periods. Get creative…if you cut back something in the yard, strip off the leaves into a pile and use those.
· Start a Garden Journal, it’s amazing to look back over time and read about what you planted, what did well, what failed….sometimes it’s hard to remember without writing things down.
· Think about gardening with a buddy, a friend, a family member, or a child! Gardening is always more fun when the work and the food are shared.
‘A`ohe hua o ka mai`a i ka lā ho’okaāhi
When a task is done together, no task is too big!
A NEW Go Farm Resource for you
Do you know about GoFarm? This awesome program on 4 Islands is addressing Hawaii’s need to grow more new sustainable agriculture producers for the Islands. This program focuses on growing knowledge, experience, and support to become one of Hawaii’s next generation of farmers, value added producers, or ag professionals. Check out their excellent new videos: GoFarm Community Edition, offering do-it-yourself gardening videos focused on bed preparation, planting, harvesting, washing and where to find things in your local area
From all of us at the Hawai’i Seed Growers Network to all of you and your Ohana who have been so busy this past year helping to grow our communities food system, taking care of each other, being creative and using ingenuity, we wish you a healthy and inspirational New Year.
We would love someday to meet each and every one of you and tour your gardens! We will continue to expand our Online Seed Marketplace, add to our Network of Seed Growers on every Island, and continue to listen to your needs for locally grown and adapted seed varieties for the climates, soils, and culinary needs of the people of Hawai’i.
Mahalo Nui for believing in the value of Local Seeds for Local Needs.
Aloha and see you in 2021,
Hawai’i Seed Growers Network